Yup. That’s us.
William and I eloped in Colorado, because when you’re young, in love, and broke (and paying for it yourself) that’s what you do! However, we came back and did a reception/HUGE party to celebrate (and still get presents) with our family and friends.
Here’s how we did a huge beautiful reception, without breaking the bank!
Yup. That was our invitation.
1.Buy your invitations from Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, etc.
I bought my invitations on CLEARANCE right when we got engaged. You can buy pre-made invitations and print them yourself! This was so easy and so cheap! I paid less than $0.50 an invitation. They have all kinds of beautiful styles and easy instructions and software that formats the paper in Microsoft Word. They even came with the reply cards to print AND a ribbon to wrap everything up. So easy. So cheap.
2. Research research research!!
I googled “cheap wedding venues in my area” and found a bunch! Now some weren’t so cute, but that’s okay! I visited a few and found one that was gorgeous. I could not find a “packaged” place (what I mean by this is that the venue includes catering and photography) that I thought was worth the money. I researched more and found that I could piece my own reception together and save money. Packaged places offer a lot of great things, but if you dig deeper, you can usually find better prices and it makes you feel more invested because YOU created it and were a part of every detail. Also, I found that hotels are usually MORE expensive than a venue or historical site.
3. Don’t tell venues/caterers/ANYONE it’s a wedding
At first, I called a historical site (which are city owned and have the best prices) and told them it was for a wedding reception. WHOA! That price was kind of out of our range. So then I called BACK and told them I was curious how much their pricing would be for a party. (just a regular old party 😉) HOLY GUACAMOLE, the price was about 3 times as less. I did the same thing with our caterer, it was half the price. Yeah, they’ll see you in a white dress when they get there, but by then it’s too late! 🙂
4. Buy your dress in “off season”
I went to David’s Bridal and tried on all the dresses and found one I really liked! I went online and waited. When the season changed that dress went on super clearance, we’re talking 75% off! I already knew what size I was because I had tried it on, I googled a promo code for David’s Bridal and found one, so I got it even CHEAPER! If you’re having a Summer wedding, find your dress in Winter. Also, online is usually way cheaper than in the stores, I don’t know why.
5. Oriental Trading
WOWZA! My cups, napkins, cake plates, forks, serving knife, party favors, etc, came from Oriental Trading. I saved so much money by buying in bulk. (We had a lot left over, but we just used the left overs at our house!) Our party favors were sunglasses with our initials and the date, and a colored pencil. The gift is something everyone can use AND it was only $1 a person. I found deals on Oriental Trading’s clearance section because it was “off season”. We had a candy bar, where people could make a bag of candy as a favor and we did it under $20, by using jars we already had and buying candy on Oriental Trading. Now understand that our house was very full the month before the reception.
This was not my centerpiece, just a cute mason jar!
6. Don’t underestimate a mason jar
Seriously, the best way to save money is by making your decorations yourself. I found on Pinterest a way to make your bouquet out of paper to look like flowers. Not only is that awesome, (because I used music staff paper) but it keeps forever! I will always keep my bouquet. Our centerpieces were mason jars I spray painted with frosting spray paint and put tea lights in. SO EASY, but it was gorgeous. If you dedicate a weekend with your bridesmaids to DIY, it’ll get done fast! Don’t completely disregard DIYing because it’s overwhelming, that’s why you have friends to help!
These are our cakes that were FREE!
7. Chances are you know someone
When we got engaged both our families couldn’t stop telling people about it, but I’m glad we did. We started getting messages and responses about “Oh, my best friend is a photographer and she’ll help you guys out!” Or “I’m going to make your cake as my present.” Yeah, this happened guys. And way more connections came through, we went to a venue that was BYOB (because buying your own alcohol is way cheaper than getting a company to serve AND buy) and someone my mom used to work with was a police officer and offered to be the policeman on duty, which if you have alcohol you have to have, for free! Also, when having alcohol on premises someone with a TABC, in Texas, has to be serving the alcohol, well lucky for us one of our friends was a bartender and said he’d do it.. FOR FREE! Our DJ was a guy I went to high school with and he was just trying out his dj-ing skills and said he would do it super cheap for the practice! Guys I’m telling you, get your feelers out and people will come! It’s also way cooler when it’s your friends because it feels like everyone really got to be a part of your day. Everything was perfect!
8. Buy your tablecloths, chair covers, etc.
I was looking to rent my tablecloths and chair covers, but what I found was that it’s the same price to rent as it is to buy. I figured, someone else has probably noticed this, so I went to craigslist and ebay. I bought my white tablecloths, chair covers, and blue ribbons for the chairs on craigslist for RIDICULOUSLY cheap! Then after, I sold them to someone else!! This is a beautiful chain reaction.
Yup that’s us throwing my bouquet.
9. Not for saving money
But something I wished someone told me when we had our reception was, it’s all about you two. I kept forgetting it was about William and I, because I was overwhelemd with the little stuff. Take a breath, let others help, and remember it’s y’alls day.Everyone is going to have a good time, because they love you. No one cares that much about napkins. I promise.
*All photos (that were not mine) found through google or flickr, all labeled for reuse.